Sat | Jan 23, 2021

Time for tourism talk on cosmetic surgery - Surgeon says stars aligning, product nears sustainable levels

Published:Sunday | October 6, 2019 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis - Gleaner Writer
A doctor does a botox injection on a woman’s face.

When the conversation surrounding medical tourism in Jamaica is again being had, it wouldn’t hurt to promote or add cosmetic surgery to that list. That’s according to weight loss, laparoscopic, and general surgeon, Dr Alfred Dawes.

Medical tourism is simple travelling abroad for medical treatment. Cost, the type of procedure or treatment, and no waiting time is often the reasons given for why persons opt to seek procedures outside of their country.

Dawes told The Sunday Gleaner he believes the time is right to talk about cosmetic surgery as a part of medical tourism in the country.

“I think eventually we will reach the stage where our product, at the rate at which it is being developed with so many practitioners coming together and offering this service, that we are going to reach the stage finally where we can think about medical tourism being developed for cosmetic surgery in Jamaica at a sustainable level,” Dawes said.

“Rather than having our Jamaicans flying out to other countries to build their medical tourism product, that is something we need to really work at right now. The stars are aligning and I see it happening very shortly.”

He added that as the procedures become available, more doctors are going off and learning them and coming back to Jamaica with the talent.

“Ophthalmologists are doing the eyebrow lifts, ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeons are doing their own thing, dermatologists are going into it more, and general surgeons are doing it,” Dawes said.

“Gynaecologists have made a big leap, so the boom has been, one, in demand from the patients, and two, the availability since it has moved out of the era where only plastic surgeons were qualified to perform these procedures, so more doctors are getting involved.

“The economics of the situation dictates that as you have more competition in the field, the offerings are going to be better, it’s going to be more structured, you are going to have better customer care, better after-care and, financially speaking, the cost will come down,” said Dawes.

Most Jamaicans typically seek out the Dominican Republic for cosmetic surgery.

Questions have been raised about accreditation and a free-for-all-type industry, given the cosmetic boom now happening in Jamaica.

“‘There is always going to be talk about accreditation, and in the US they have their accreditation boards and that works for the US, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a doctor with accreditation is going to have a worse outcome.

“It is the individual skill, it’s the individual judgement and the individual level of training that is going to determine what the outcome is, and that is of course a concern that you must bear in mind, if unqualified persons are going to be doing procedures where they have had no training whatsoever, but I’m comfortable with doctors who have the requisite training going and performing these procedures.”

Added Dawes: “It is better to have the availability of the service from qualified physicians rather than having patients go to basement and back alleys to have them done, and that is when we run into the problems that everyone is concerned about.”